Weight Loss Support - convenience/accuracy tradeoff for calories




martini
08-24-2011, 07:52 AM
The place where I work has a canteen/employee cafeteria and it's very, very easy to go there for lunch. The problem that I'm having is that I have to eyeball everything and guess portion sizes. I can't measure anything at all. I've kind of figured out what a cup of rice looks like and there are few things like fried fish that I've been able to look up. Other things, though, I'm at a loss on.

I guess the scale is going to be the judge of how well this is working for me, but I still have two questions... First, what are people's thoughts on convenience versus accuracy of measurement? I like being able to measure my food and know what I'm eating, but the cafeteria is cheap and tasty. I'm more than willing to pack my lunches, but I don't know if I'm being all weird about something I shouldn't stress over.

Second, has anyone ever had that lack of fit between the calories written down and the hunger they feel? I'm either not measuring correctly and eating more than I think I am, or I'm getting so used to eating this way that I'm full on a few hundred calories per meal. I'd love for it to be the latter, but there's every reason to think it's the former. Any ideas here?


indiblue
08-24-2011, 08:46 AM
I try to guesstimate/opt for convenience AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE when calorie counting.

BUT the minute I start gaining/stalling, it's the first thing I tighten up on.

I would cut back on the rice. Maybe cut it completely. Unless it's a brown or long-grain there is little nutrition in rice. Maybe supplement it instead with a small piece of cheese, beans, yogurt, or some other nutrient-dense, filling substitute.

It sounds like your lunches are a fairly healthy (since you're in Asia I'm assuming the food you're eating is fresh, not like cheap buffets in the US :)) and inexpensive, so I wouldn't worry too much over calorie counting it extremely closely. You could focus instead on what you have more control of- a smaller breakfast and dinner that you make at home/can watch the oil, butter, etc you put into it.

The other thing to be careful with is salt. I live in Asia too and I know how absurdly salty things are due to soy sauce, fish sauce, etc. Make sure you're drinking lots of water, and make sure the rest of your meals that you prepare at home are very low sodium.

All that to say, if the scale doesn't seem to budge you may have to be much more strict about portion size during lunch time.

Good luck!

berryblondeboys
08-24-2011, 08:53 AM
If you are measuring at home, you will get more and more accurate at guessing how much is the right amount at work. Like the above poster, if you are losing, you are probably eye balling it correctly and yes, your hunger does subside as your body gets used to your new eating habits. Hunger pangs are not necessarily about being hungry. Your body can send out hunger pangs if it's just used to getting food at a certain time. And I definitely can't eat as much at one time as I used to. I feel awfully very quickly now.


bargoo
08-24-2011, 08:53 AM
Your buffet sounds great, but you do have to guesstimate. Eat fresh as much as possible. Watch out for fried foods, and sauces. Sauces may be loaded with fat, sugar and salt. Somewhere I have seen visuals about what different portions should look like , I don't remember where . The only thing I recall off hand is 4 ounces of meat is about the size of a playing card. Maybe someone else has seen the same thing.

zoodoo613
08-24-2011, 08:56 AM
I estimate all the time, but I agree with indiblue that it's something to check if things aren't working.

One thing I'm confused about: are you giving yourself these servings, or is someone giving them too you. I would trust your numbers more if you're serving yourself. Also, I would check with someone to be sure the vegetables aren't loaded up with oils, especially if you're feeling fuller than you'd expect.

I agree that the scale with ultimately be the judge of whether it's working.

carter
08-24-2011, 08:57 AM
I guess the scale is going to be the judge of how well this is working for me, but I still have two questions... First, what are people's thoughts on convenience versus accuracy of measurement? I like being able to measure my food and know what I'm eating, but the cafeteria is cheap and tasty. I'm more than willing to pack my lunches, but I don't know if I'm being all weird about something I shouldn't stress over.


I think it's fine - try it for a few weeks, see how the scale responds. Maybe you can bring a measuring cup with you to soothe your fear of eyeballing? I sometimes eat this way from the salad bar at work. There are 1c paper cups near the soup service there, so I grab one and use it as a guide for estimating how much chicken or caloric vegetables like artichoke hearts I am taking. One thing I would do different from you, is I wouldn't spend calories on a whole cup of rice at lunch - I'd eat half a cup or none at all, but that's just me. I rarely find that rice is worth the calories.


Second, has anyone ever had that lack of fit between the calories written down and the hunger they feel? I'm either not measuring correctly and eating more than I think I am, or I'm getting so used to eating this way that I'm full on a few hundred calories per meal. I'd love for it to be the latter, but there's every reason to think it's the former. Any ideas here?

Hunger is more about what you are eating than how many calories it has. I don't know much about your eating habits, but if you are new to eating whole foods and lots of vegetables, you may just be adjusting to how satiating they are compared to packaged foods that are practically engineered to leave you wanting more of them. I wouldn't fret about this either, personally. If you find you aren't hungry, don't eat. If you find you aren't hungry and you still have room for more calories in your budget, then you can add some healthy fat like olive oil or avocado or nuts into your diet. This is usually a good place to be!

Thighs Be Gone
08-24-2011, 10:08 AM
For me it would be worth it to pack my lunch. Unless I have seen it prepared, I assume it's NOT a safe option. You could also go with having a huge, safe salad and then having a very moderate portion of something from the hot buffet. You are doing so well on your journey to health! You are right--ultimately the scale/clothing size does determine how successful we have been.

Heather
08-24-2011, 10:26 AM
I was also going to suggest just bringing a cup with you -- more accurate than "eyeballing" it. Hasn't anyone else tucked a tablespoon in their purse for measuring things like salad dressing??? :o

Second, 8 oz of protein is a lot -- usually a serving is considered 3-4 oz. Usually the 'eyeball' for that is a deck of cards. Of coiurse, if that really is what you intend that's fine.

For me calorie counting is more about accountability than worrying that I'm perfectly accurate. But you might be off by many 100s of calories at your buffet, and if you eat there 5 days a week, that could derail your weight loss attempts.

Good luck!

Munchy
08-24-2011, 10:47 AM
Second, 8 oz of protein is a lot -- usually a serving is considered 3-4 oz. Usually the 'eyeball' for that is a deck of cards. Of coiurse, if that really is what you intend that's fine.

I was going to say the same - it looks like two meals and I would likely half it (1/2 cup rice, 4oz meat). However, I do eat many meals in day so if that's your big meal of your day, it's pretty much the same as my lunch day's meal plus two snacks.

carter
08-24-2011, 11:04 AM
I was going to say the same - it looks like two meals and I would likely half it (1/2 cup rice, 4oz meat). However, I do eat many meals in day so if that's your big meal of your day, it's pretty much the same as my lunch day's meal plus two snacks.

Agreed, as long as you know what you are doing (count it, budget for it, have enough calorie budget for the type of dinner you want) there's nothing wrong with eating that much at lunch.

Of course, since the OP mentions feeling overfull, maybe reducing those portions wouldn't be a bad thing! ;)

I admit that I sometimes take 6-8 oz. of chicken at the salad bar. A big pile of vegetables, a large portion of protein - no rice or anything like that - makes for a very satisfying lunch for me well within my calorie budget.

Rana
08-24-2011, 11:36 AM
I think this link can help you: http://www.wisegeek.com/what-does-200-calories-look-like.htm

What I also do is that I keep in mind that the palm of my hand (a woman's small hand) is about 4 oz of protein and my whole fist is about a cup. That helps when I'm not at home to calculate how much I should be eating.

But generally, I stick to veggies and protein when I'm out, rather than eating white rice or pasta, because it's never worth the calories versus the hunger for me.

If you can have an accurate mental measure of what you're eating, you should go ahead and enjoy the meals you're eating. The scale will tell you what long term effects it's having and you can adjust accordingly.

Also, if you're eating more protein because it's more "affordable" then that can also cause you to feel less hunger during the day...

Beach Patrol
08-24-2011, 11:43 AM
WOW!!!!!!! :yikes:

A buck-fifty for a buffet meal???? THAT'S INCREDIBLE!!!! :D

Portion sizes are actually easier than you think to "eyeball". And while you may not get the exact calorie count that way, you can get pretty close.

A serving size of 3oz of meat (beef, chicken, fish, etc.) is about the size of a deck of cards.

A "pat" of butter? The size of a dice.

A "cup" of veggies, rice, etc? - the size of a baseball.

Salad dressing (2 tablespoons)?? - a shot glass.

Visit here for more: http://weightloss.about.com/od/eatsmart/qt/eyeportions.htm

Also, thanks to 3FC!!!! visit here:
http://www.3fatchicks.com/how-to-eyeball-your-serving-size/

OH! And check THIS OUT... how cool is THIS!?!?!?
http://www.theportionplate.com/

bargoo
08-24-2011, 03:39 PM
Thanks, BeachPatrol, I couldn't remeber where I saw it but knew there was a guide to estimate portions when you are eatung out or don't know the calories.

April Snow
08-24-2011, 03:46 PM
Agreed, as long as you know what you are doing (count it, budget for it, have enough calorie budget for the type of dinner you want) there's nothing wrong with eating that much at lunch.

Of course, since the OP mentions feeling overfull, maybe reducing those portions wouldn't be a bad thing! ;)

I admit that I sometimes take 6-8 oz. of chicken at the salad bar. A big pile of vegetables, a large portion of protein - no rice or anything like that - makes for a very satisfying lunch for me well within my calorie budget.


this. If you feel too full, eat less. And to control calories, cut back/cut out the rice. You should definitely be fine with a generous portion of veggies and protein plus a small portion of starches, even if you aren't accurate to the exact calorie.

2sw33t
08-24-2011, 04:11 PM
The important thing is really more consistency rather than accuracy: if you consistently estimate your calories a certain way, you'll be able to tell whether you need to increase or decrease what you're eating based on the results (scale and otherwise). Just be careful to measure occasionally to make sure your portions aren't creeping up in size.

rubidoux
08-25-2011, 04:13 AM
You've lost sixty pounds! Woot! A half pound in a week sounds frustrating, but I do think that over the long haul we all have those weeks and it's too be expected. It might be because of the buffet or it might be just where your body is at with weight loss this week, kwim?

Do you always weigh yourself late in the day? I don't think I've ever even heard of anyone doing that. I am always a fair amount lighter first thing in the morning. Of course, every day I am a fair amount heavier sometime after that. So whatever time you weigh at is probably fine as long as it's consistent. I'm just curious.

carter
08-25-2011, 08:59 AM
According to those caloric calculators, I need about 2400 calories/day to maintain my weight. Because I lose half a pound this week I must have very roughly eaten something like 2100 calories/day (over six days to total 1800 calories or about half of what it takes to burn a pound).

How in the world could I have been off by 600 calories a day? My current plan is 1500 calories a day and I would have sworn up and down I was on it. Am I doing a bad job counting calories or is there something else that I'm not thinking of that could have caused this?

It doesn't quite work as clockwork-regular as you are suggesting here.

It takes roughly a 3500-calorie deficit to burn a pound of fat. But you are made of things other than fat. You might burn a pound of fat over the course of the week, but retain a pound of fluid(*). You might burn a pound of fat over the course of the week, but have a 16-oz (1 pound) glass of water in your belly (or the rest of your breakfast) at the moment you weigh. You might have a pound of waste sitting in your large intestines that hasn't been eliminated yet (sorry).

There are too many factors that go into what you weigh for you to see your weight march cooperatively downward every time you weigh yourself. Weight loss occurs in fits and starts - you are not a clockwork machine, even if you follow your plan to the letter. So don't expect to see a perfect week-after-week correlation between how well you follow your plan and what your weight loss is.

Rather, if you maintain a 3500-calorie/week deficit over a period of several months, then at the end of those several months you will be able to look back and see that you have lost, on average, about a pound a week.

(*) Fluid retention too depends upon a lot of factors outside your control. So "but I control my sodium and drink lots of water!" isn't an answer to fluid retention. Your fluid weight will fluctuate based upon weather, hormones, exercise, and a host of other factors you have no control over. Some people theorize that the fat in your body, as it gets burned, gets replaced by water which stays with you for a few days even after the fat is gone, which explains the "whooshes" that some people see in their weight loss. I like this theory myself but I don't know whether it is supported scientifically.

2sw33t
08-25-2011, 09:41 AM
What carter said, and also caloric calculators are really just a place to start - they are a sort of average, which isn't necessarily accurate for you.

Plus, the number of calories you burn can fluctuate pretty widely, depending on your activity levels and other things. Even what you eat can change the amount you burn, via thermic effect and hormonal levels, which can affect your energy levels which can effect your activity levels which can affect your hunger which can affect what you eat... your body is a dynamic system. We're not really equipped to take all of those things into account all the time, so we work from averages and cues that our bodies send us - and, ultimately what we see on the scale and in the mirror.

You had a loss, and even though it wasn't as big as you were hoping for, it still suggests that you're on the right track. Maybe limiting the work buffets is a good tactic to speed up the process a bit and it's great that you're willing to tweak to make things work, but don't be bummed that you didn't lose more - you're doing great! Congrats on the 60 lbs lost!